Opinion

Questioning the need for Navy ‘DUI Days’ | In our Opinion

Some Whidbey Island Naval Air Station squadrons have an incentive program that rewards sailors for not getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Simply put, the program says, avoid alcohol-related incidents and the whole squadron gets a day off.

The goal — responsible drinking — is desirable. The result — fewer alcohol-related accidents and injuries — is desirable.

The necessity for such a program, however, is dubious.

Dubbed DUI Days, the program began at NAS Whidbey about a year and a half ago as a means of curbing alcohol-related incidents.

The incentive program works by rewarding entire commands, rather than individuals. If the squadron goes without an incident for three months, they all get one day off.

Some squadrons have worked hard to earn a four-day leave, according to Chris Phillips, the base’s executive officer.

While not all squadrons participate, those that do say they’ve achieved impressive results.

In 2012, 50 active-duty service members were caught driving while under the influence. This calendar year, which ends Sept. 30, saw just 18.

This is a commendable improvement and sailors, and all others who drink responsibly, should be congratulated for this vastly-improved statistic.

But not with days off of work.

Military life is undoubtedly tough. Service members are away from home, doing difficult jobs and are asked to put their lives on the line.

However, drinking responsibly is a basic responsibility, something we expect of all adults.

Not getting behind the wheel of a car after having a few too many is worthy of praise, congratulations and appreciation.

But giving a day off of work for what amounts to a social obligation shouldn’t be necessary.

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